Consultant solicitor Shashi Sachdeva, in our leading Family Law team, explains whether you still need to attend Court Hearings during lockdown and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest announcement on lockdown, do you or should you still attend Court Hearings?
It is clear that attending a Court Hearing is not the same as visiting a pharmacy to obtain medication or shopping for urgent food supplies. So, what is the position if you are due to attend a Court Hearing and/or need to issue an application to the Court which may involve attending Court soon?
In order to ensure the administration of justice continues, the Court service is continuing to deal with Hearings. What is important to understand is whether the physical attendance at Court is required or whether the Hearing can take place remotely.
Each Court is different and a great deal will depend on whether the Court staff including the Judge are able to physically attend Court. Advocates and other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice who are working on imminent or ongoing Hearings are classed as being key workers.
In the first instance, enquiries should be made with the individual Court to understand what their local practice is. In light of the Prime Minister’s latest announcement and guidance from the President of the Family Division, it is anticipated that most if not all Hearings should now take place remotely. The advice provided by the individual Court should be followed.
If the specific Court is not permitting or does not require physical attendance then clarification should be sought as to whether the Hearing can still take place remotely. There is a range of technology that can potentially be used to set up either a telephone or video conference Hearing. Full details should be obtained from the Court as to which technology they can support.
If, one of the parties to the Hearing is unwell then the Hearing will have to be adjourned and a specific application to the Court for an adjournment will have to be made. Medical evidence may also be needed in such a situation.
So far across the team, we have conducted a number of Hearings and related conferences remotely and it seems to be working well. There are advantages and disadvantages to the arrangements and it is likely to change the dynamic of some Court Hearings and discussions outside of Court. However, we are keen to embrace the technology available and to support clients to ensure that their Hearings can continue without disruption where possible. If you have any queries regarding a forthcoming Hearing in light of the current situation, please contact a member of our Family Law team.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.